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More air bags, inflatable shoulder belts among new auto trends

Monday - 1/2/2012, 11:59am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Think about how many air bags are in your car. Now try imagining where to put 10 of them.

Front-seat air bags for your knees are going to be common by this time next year, according to USA Today's Drive On column. Protective, inflatable shoulder belts also are coming, along with center console air bags to keep people in the front seat from bopping heads during crashes.

Among other auto updates to anticipate in 2012, cars with automatic stop features will burn less gas by essentially putting a car's engine on pause at red lights. The "i-stop" technology first was developed by Mazda, and already is offered in the Mazda3.

This year additionally will be hot for performance cars with smaller engines that produce more horsepower, according to USA Today. And expect to see more sophisticated smartphone interaction with vehicles using voice recognition.

You'll hear more about what's coming from the auto industry in a few weeks during the North American International Auto Show.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)